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Thu 22nd Jan 2015 - Bulldog set for £20m expansion after selling 20% stake
Bulldog set for £20m expansion after selling 20% stake: Independent coaching inn operator the Bulldog Hotel Group is set for major expansion, following investment from sector specialist investment company the Commer Group. The deal, for an undisclosed sum, sees Commer Group take a 20% stake in the business, with Commer Group managing director Edward Walsh joining Bulldog’s board as finance director. The investment creates a platform for an acquisition programme, which will see the hotel group invest £20 million over the next five years in a doubling of the estate. “We’ve built our property and leisure businesses by carefully choosing the right acquisitions and by backing the best people,” said Walsh. “Kevin Charity, at Bulldog Hotel Group, is one of the best independent operators of regional hotels in the country, so this investment is a natural development for us. We have an ambitious acquisition and expansion programme and are already in detailed discussions with funding providers as part of that process.” The Bulldog Hotel Group has well-known hotels in Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire and County Durham and has built a strong reputation in the industry for transforming underperforming establishments into busy and profitable businesses. Managing director Kevin Charity said: “We’re delighted Edward is joining the Bulldog board to lead our investment programme. His extensive financial experience as an investment banker and business knowledge and contacts through the Commer Group, will help us realise our ambitious growth plans. Our successful business model is based on selecting high quality coaching inns and revitalising their offer across food, drink and accommodation. While many individual hotels can only afford to focus on just one area, we have the resources to ensure excellence across all three income streams and give guests and customers an all-round better experience. This is proving attractive to couples and families for holiday breaks, but also to the corporate market for meetings and conferences. The regional hotel market, and particularly the coaching inn sector, remains highly fragmented and with this investment we have never been better placed to take advantage of the acquisition opportunities that we continue to see and allows us to grow the estate from seven to fifteen by 2020.” The Bulldog Hotel Group specialises in individually styled coaching inns, each with an all-day offering and is currently enjoying record sales across each of its three core income streams. Having acquired its first hotel site in 2004 the Group now has a turnover in excess of £10 million and employs over 320 people across seven locations. The £40 million Commer Group specialises in the hotel, licensed and leisure sectors and was established by Edward Walsh’s late father Jim Walsh in 1989. In September, Propel reported Bulldog turnover rose to £8,284,000 in the year to 31 March 2014 from £5,999,000 in 2012/13. Pre-tax profit climbed to £271,000 from £55,000 the year before. The current financial year will see a full-year contribution from the 62-bedroom Three Swans in Market Harborough and the Old Bridge Inn and Coffee House in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, which saw a “transformational” investment in March last year. Ebitda across the company’s seven sites is forecast to hit £1,860,000 in the current financial year with pre-tax profit of around £750,000.

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